Location: 502 Doveton Street North, Soldier's Hill (corner of Doveton and Macarthur)
Website: an old-school but nevertheless informative website, and user reviews on urbanspoon
Price: current menu and desserts menu, with mains ranging from $25 to $35. Also has a nice selection of kis menu goodies for under $8. There were a few items we had which were on an updated menu, and they had several other things on the specials menu too.
Eye fillet of beef - "big fat and juicy from only the best steers in the district." Served with blue cheese butter, inclusive of chips and salad (cooked vegetable option available). It's hard to see from here but the eye fillet was a really large chunk of steak, more than 5cm thick! Really enjoyed the beef - meat was consistently juicy and tender throughout and the blue cheese butter gave it an interesting flavour. For the salad there was a scoop of coleslaw, and one of garden salad. Chips were crispy and there was not much to complain about there expect some sauce or gravy to go with it would have been nice. Lastly, there was the strange addition of two buttered triangular pieces of bread! Now, I don't mind bread but perhaps crusty bread, or anything besides plain white sandwich bread would have better complimented the dish.
Regional Bullboars - "for only the serious sausage connoisseur, sourced regionally, and served with creamy mash and tomato relish, rich gravy." I thought my friend wanted to order "bullballs" - what? They do offer some dishes that don't feature in your usual pub menu, such as lamb's fry, which I've never had, or even heard of. Anyway, bullboar sausage does actually have a local origin. Apparently, it was first made by Swiss-Italian migrants in the region, using roughly half beef (bull) and half pork (boar), a variety of spices, and is supposed to be leaner than other sausages. I'm no sausage connoisseur but I think these qualities were reflected in the rather sharp and dry taste, which was not great, but balanced well with the gravy and relish. Loved the tomato relish, sweet and tangy. And see the swirl of creamy mash? There is a second, equally big swirl hiding behind the sausage.
Poached pear and butterscotch sauce - served with coconut ice cream and mascapone. Especially enjoyed the poached pear, soft, melting deliciously with the creamy sweetness of the sauce and mascapone. However, the coconut ice cream was too sweet, and the big chunks of dessicated coconut wasn't something that I was fond of.
Other: the pub area looks lovely and welcoming, with old-fashioned but not op-shop quality couches. Staff were helpful and pleasant. The light drizzle and cold fog outside, together with gentle yellow lighting and interesting wooden furniture, give a really special feel to the place. As if you are in a warm old house in the mountains, or ye olde pub, somewhere in Europe. Not that I've been to Europe.
Rating: 4.5/5 what a most pleasant find in Ballarat! Will definitely be recommending North Britain Hotel. Love the atmosphere and how it whisks you to a faraway place. The mains and desserts were good, with genuine pub-size servings. For each dish the main element was done really well, but perhaps they could work on creating accompaniments that are more thoughtful, rather than bread or salad that can be bought and served from the local supermarket.